Memorial Day: How Can We as a Nation Best Honor Our Fallen? – Karl Ivey, Fulton, Kentucky
“WAR is not the answer,” says a popular bumper sticker. How foolish and naive is that statement! War will always be the final answer as long as men carry evil in their hearts. It is well known by all those serving in uniform that old men (politicians) make wars and young men (and sometimes women) fight them. Hold that thought because it returns later in my comments.
Let me share a personal story. My twin brother, Captain Glen S. Ivey, was killed in action on 6 May 1972 while fighting as an advisor along-side South Vietnamese soldiers from its famed Parachute Division. At his death, he was 24, and for 22 of those years, we had always been together. We had just completed four years in the crucible of cadet life at West Point and separated to serve our nation as Army officers. His loss was a blow to me like none you can imagine unless you have lost a spouse or a twin.
Memorial Day for me is not something abstract. It is a personal day of remembrance and reflection. What would Glen and the 54,000 others whose names are etched into the wall of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington want us to do for them?
First, they would want us to never, never forget them and the price they paid on our behalf.
Second, they would want us to revere their service and continue to honor their sacrifice. Succinctly put, those in combat want to know that their sacrifice in battle is worth having to give up their lives.
Now—back to those old men/politicians who start wars. We Americans owe it to our fallen warriors not to waste their lives by electing politicians who place worries about polls or the next election ahead them. Politicians must allow the war fighters the freedom to close with and destroy our enemies. The fallen plead with us to not waste their lives nor to abandon their victories because we have lost the will to carry forth the effort necessary to actually defeat our enemies.
Thus, we owe it to our warriors to actually know who it is we are voting for and whether they are truly qualified for our vote. We must continuously update ourselves with the real truth, not the Pablum reported on six o’clock news that many accept as truth. Dig for truth and speak for those who cannot. Make those in political office do right for the nation and our warriors, not just what is best for their political party or careers.
Veterans must also stand together demanding to be heard and demanding that all veterans be respected and treated well by this nation in appreciation of their sacrifices. The news today is full of stories about veterans abused and allowed to die by the VA system’s false reporting and death panels. Disgraceful red tape and bureaucratic bungling is killing our veterans. Such despicable treatment of our veterans at the hands of our government is a signal that those in power do not really care about those they order into combat. Government healthcare that lets our veterans die by purposefully delaying treatment is unforgivable. So we living veterans must fight for each other just like we did in combat. But, we veterans need the help of each of you to remember why our fallen had to die in service to our nation.
We veterans need to help non-veterans remember that we live in a world where evil still lives in the hearts of men. We know it, but often we overlook those ugly facts in our pursuit of the freedoms that veterans and the fallen helped preserve.
Honor our fallen by honoring the living veterans. Take your civic responsibility seriously. Remember that all of our service men and women give something of themselves for you and that some have and will give everything for you.
If you remember, you will act and thereby honor our fallen on Memorial Day—and every day.
Karl Ivey is a retired U. S. Army Ranger, paratrooper, and attorney residing in Fulton, Kentucky.